The City Magazine Since 1975

Racing the Wind



Racing the Wind
WRITER: 
June 2019

A brief history of the Lowcountry's longest-running regatta

It wouldn’t be summer without dinghies slicing through Charleston Harbor, such as these boats photographed by Morton B. Paine Jr. during the Carolina Yacht Club Regatta on July 23, 1936. The club hosted its first competition on July 14, 1883—the same year it was founded—and has held a summer race most years since. While local interest in recreational sailing wavered in the early 20th century (races dwindled to a scant number of boats and ceased altogether at times between World War I and the Great Depression), sailing competitions surged in popularity after Gaillard Dotterer took the helm as commodore of the club in 1932. His reimagined events, which incorporated receptions and dances alongside more regattas, saw 60-plus vessels attending the 1938 annual race. To this day, the club holds a July competition, called the “Carolina Yacht Club Open Regatta,” which is the largest and longest-running in the Lowcountry. The race series boasts more than 130 skippers each year, a far cry from the seven that participated in the club’s first regatta more than a century ago.

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Photograph by Morton B. Paine Jr., courtesy of The Charleston Museum